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Questions for Network Rail over London Bridge delays and overcrowding 18 January 2015

Posted by George Crozier in Transport.
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As travellers from Honor Oak Park (like me), Forest Hill and Sydenham will be only too painfully aware, services into London Bridge seem to have hit a new low since new year.

Lib Dem London Assembly Member Caroline Pidgeon – who chairs the London Assembly’s Transport Committee – has taken this up with Network Rail. She emailed us with this update:

Questions that Network Rail must now answer

The New Year has seen continued misery for passengers using London Bridge station.

As a passenger Caroline has had first-hand experience of the additional stress and pressure the constant overcrowding, cancellations and delays are having on commuters.

We were promised that after Christmas and the two week station closure everything would be sorted and yet the New Year has brought even more pain and fewer trains for passengers.

As Chair of the Transport Committee Caroline has written to Network Rail about this and the problems at King’s Cross, and will continue to press for improvements while these major works continue.

The London Bridge improvement works letter requests the following information and assurance to the Committee, regarding services delivered in the week commencing 4 January:

  • The number of unscheduled train cancellations on routes into and out of London Bridge Station from 4 January and the reasons for these cancellations.
  • The number of train delays of longer than 30 minutes, for services arriving and departing London Bridge.
  • Confirmation of whether the signalling problems experienced in the week commencing 4 January are linked to, or separate from, the Thameslink programme works, and what is being done to resolve these problems.
  • Further information on Network Rail’s policy for cancellation of trains with passengers on board.

The details of the correspondence can be seen here.

Extra buses on the way 6 July 2014

Posted by George Crozier in Transport.
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This story appears in the July – August 2014 Forest Hill Focus

George Crozier at a bus stop in Forest Hill

George Crozier has welcomed TfL’s promise of extra buses at peak times

Some good news from TfL for our campaign against bus overcrowding. They are laying on four extra services a day on the 176 route at peak times.

Focus Team member George Crozier asked Lib Dem London Assembly Member Caroline Pidgeon, who is Deputy Chair of the Assembly’s Transport Committee, to take up overcrowding on the 176 and the 185 with TfL, and whether there is a need for additional buses at peak times. This followed a survey which identified the two routes as among the ten most overcrowded in the whole of London.

Caroline and her office energetically took up the issue and we have now been told by TfL that they will be running additional services on the 176 towards central London during the morning rush hour and in the opposite direction in the evening rush hour. Buses will now be running every seven minutes rather than every eight minutes on during these peak times.

TfL told Caroline they could not “provide a precise timescale at present, but would like to assure Mr Crozier that we are working hard to implement this proposal as quickly as possible, subject to receipt of costs from the operator and approval.”

On the 185, TfL say they are still reviewing the data, and depending on the outcome will look at undertaking additional surveys or providing extra buses if required.

We will keep you informed of developments on both routes.

More buses on the way? 14 April 2014

Posted by George Crozier in Transport.
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More buses on the way?

George Crozier at a bus stop in Forest Hill

George looking serious at the bus stop outside The Capitol

Some promising news from TfL for our campaign against bus overcrowding. They are ‘exploring the possibility’ of providing extra services.

As I wrote back in March, we asked Lib Dem London Assembly Member Caroline Pidgeon, who is Deputy Chair of the Assembly’s Transport Committee, to take up overcrowding on the 176 and the 185 with TfL, and whether there is a need for additional buses at peak times. This followed a survey which identified the two routes as among the ten most overcrowded in the whole of London.

Caroline and her office energetically took up the issue and, via them, we have received this reply from TfL (my bolding):

I would like to assure Mr Crozier that we regularly monitor demand on the bus network in a variety of ways, including surveys (we have conducted around 7000 in the last three years alone), use of Oyster card data, and reviews of customer and stakeholder correspondence. Although complaints about overcrowding typically comprise fewer than 5 per cent of the total comments we receive about buses, we take all such complaints seriously and address them in a variety of ways including changes to frequencies and bus sizes as well as measures to improve reliability.

We have now investigated the reports of over-crowding on routes 176 and 185, and I can confirm that both routes do look well used. We are therefore exploring the possibility of providing an additional journey or journeys on route 176, although I must emphasise that this proposal is provisional, and is subject to confirmation of costs from the operator and final approval. We are currently reviewing the existing passenger loading data for route 185 in closer detail, and depending on the outcome we will look at undertaking additional surveys or proposing a change in capacity if required. I will be happy to provide an update as soon as further information is available.

I’ve asked for clarification on likely timescale, both for the next update from TfL and for the actual provision of any additional services, and will post that here as soon as I hear anything.

Fingers crossed!

Honor Oak Park work continues 14 April 2014

Posted by George Crozier in Transport, Uncategorized.
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IMG_0955

Works to improve access to Honor Oak Park station continue.

For anyone wondering why this is taking so long, here is a letter I received from Network Rail in early February in response to an enquiry:

Dear Mr Crozier

Lifts at Honor Oak Park Station

Thank you for your correspondence below in regards to lifts at this station.

Unfortunately we have come across some major issues with our main contractor and the wider supply chain. The designs produced for the lift and necessary structures fall below the quality and requirements we have set.

Please rest assured Network Rail remain committed to deliver the much needed lifts at Honor Oak Park and we are doing everything we can to deliver these as fast and safely as possible.

I hope you find the above information useful.

When we spoke with the contractors in the first half of March they told us that they will be complete in ‘a couple of months’ but the new lifts (work pictured above) should be working before that. At time of writing work is continuing slowly.

Hopefully our patience will be rewarded soon and the station finally made accessible to all; we will still need to ensure those with mobility problems can get onto all trains easily though, which isn’t the case yet.

The lifts are being installed with national government money as part of the Government’s Access for All scheme. In Dec 2011 Lib Dems in Government announced a £100 million boost for the scheme.

Honor Oak Park water works 22 March 2014

Posted by George Crozier in Streets, Transport.
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This story appeared in the February – March 2014 Forest Hill Focus

Many residents of Hengrave, Boveney and Devonshire Roads contacted us about the traffic problems caused by the Thames Water works on Honor Oak Park recently.  The diversion system in place was inadequate for dealing with the volume of cars and lorries that use HOP, and we have asked Lewisham’s transport officers to account for their management of this problem. “Although the works were to deal with an emergency, the impact of the extra traffic on local roads should have been dealt with better,” commented Forest Hill ward Cllr Alex Feakes.

Bus campaign: Next stop City Hall 22 March 2014

Posted by George Crozier in Transport.
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George Crozier at a bus stop in Forest Hill

Lib Dem campaigner George Crozier is leading calls for action on bus and rail overcrowding

This story appeared in the February – March 2014 Forest Hill Focus

The Forest Hill Focus Team are working with Lib Dem London Assembly member Caroline Pidgeon to get action to tackle overcrowding on buses serving our area.

Caroline is Deputy Chair of the Assembly’s Transport Committee, which recently identified the 185 and 176 as among the ten most overcrowded bus routes in the capital. She has tabled questions to London Mayor Boris Johnson asking why TfL do not officially measure and publish information on bus crowding, as happens with trains. She has also asked TfL to look into overcrowding on the 185 and 176 specifically, and whether there is a need for additional buses at peak times.

Overground update

The Lib Dem team have welcomed news that trains on the London Overground serving Honor Oak Park, Forest Hill and Sydenham are to be extended to five carriages to tackle overcrowding . The first of the longer trains should be in service by the end of 2014.

Some platforms are also to be extended. However TfL do not appear to be considering other station improvements, such as installing extra escalators to ease congestion at popular interchanges such as Canada Water. Forest Hill campaigner George Crozier has written to TfL asking them to explore this.

The Focus Team want to hear from bus and rail passengers about their experiences, especially with overcrowding. Please contact George Crozier at crozierg@yahoo.co.uk.

Resurfacing of Dartmouth Road, #se23 13 March 2014

Posted by Alex Feakes in Forest Hill, Lewisham Council, Streets, Transport.
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Lewisham Council will be resurfacing Dartmouth Road, SE23 between Thursday 20th March and Wednesday 26th March (but no Saturday and Sunday).  The works will be carried out between 9pm and 5.30am, so there will be noise and traffic disruption for residents and businesses at night during that period.  The Council have asked that any parked cars be moved elsewhere before works start each evening.

For more details, please contact Bala Balaskanthan at LBL on 020 8314 2588.

It’s Official. 185 and 176 are: Full to Bus-ting 4 January 2014

Posted by George Crozier in Transport.
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Susan Kramer with Margot and George

Local campaigners George Crozier and Margot Wilson raised bus overcrowding when they met with Transport Minister Susan Kramer (centre) recently, While buses are the responsibility of Transport for London, which is run by the Mayor of London, national government sets the level of TfL’s grant.

This story appears in the December 2013 / January 2014 Forest Hill Focus

Buses serving Forest Hill, Honor Oak and Sydenham are among the most overcrowded in London. The 185 from Lewisham to Victoria is the most crowded of all and the 176 from Penge to Tottenham Court Road is also in the top ten, according to a survey carried out by the London Assembly’s Transport Committee.

Focus Team campaigners George Crozier and Margot Wilson raised the issue when they met with Transport Minister Susan Kramer recently.  While buses are the responsibility of Transport for London, which is run by the Mayor of London, the national government sets the level of TfL’s grant.

The Forest Hill Lib Dem team are calling on TfL to:

  • Officially measure and publish information on bus crowding, as happens with trains, including the number of people who cannot board a bus because it is too full and the number who are unable to get a seat once on board
  • Invest in additional buses for routes in south east London including the 185 and 176, to reduce overcrowding

George Crozier said: “With our area a ‘no go zone’ for the Tube it’s no surprise that buses are so packed. TfL need to get their act together, start measuring overcrowding properly and provide extra buses for the busiest routes at peak times.”

Campaign success! A safer Wood Vale crossing for pedestrians in #se23 24 November 2013

Posted by Alex Feakes in Community, Forest Hill, Transport.
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Following complaints from residents and some near-miss accidents, Margot Wilson at Wood Vale crossingForest HIll Lib Dems have been campaigning for a safer pedestrian crossing at the junction of Wood Vale and Forest Hill Road.  A petition signed by many residents on the Wood Vale estate and adjoining roads supported plans for a safer crossing, and we’re delighted that Transport for London have at last started work at the site.

Here, Forest Hill Lib Dem campaigner Margot Wilson tries out the new pedestrian crossing controls, though the works won’t be finished for a few weeks yet.  The reworking of the junction should also see some improvements for motorists and bus drivers.

Honor Oak Road – petition on 20mph zone 23 June 2013

Posted by Philip in Transport.
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Earlier this year I was asked to look into problems on the walking route to Fairlawn School. In a separate occurrence I was also told of complaints of speeding traffic on Canonbie Road. At a meeting at the school, to discuss its Travel Plan, further issues were raised.

Four years ago, Lewisham had run a consultation on a 20mph zone in the whole area to our side of the railway line.

Such zones required extra physical measures to slow traffic down. There was a lot of concern from Ringmore Rise, Tewkesbury Avenue and Horniman Drive, about adding speed humps to those presently un-humped roads. The result was that the zone was introduced only to those roads on the lower side of Honor Oak Road.

I had always thought that the exclusion of Honor Oak Road from the original plan was odd. Certainly the northern half, going past an old people’s home and a primary school, with another primary school at the junction, was a candidate for lower speeds. Fairlawn (and Horniman) schools are two of only 11 primary schools in the borough (out of 69) which are on through roads.

The petition we put together following all this requested the 20mph zone to be extended to Canonbie and Netherby Roads, which were excluded from the original zone, and to include the northern half of Honor Oak Road. That half is defined as starting at the junction with Horniman Drive; there is a natural entry there, where the road narrows from the left around the trees in the verge adjacent to the old people’s home.

With the help of Pat and Rowena from TLERA and my councillor colleague Alex among others, we collected 271 signatures from people who live in the area and from parents of children at Fairlawn School. I think in total about 8 people who we found in didn’t want to sign the petition, which should give the council an indication of the balance of feeling.

On Wednesday 1st May I met with two of the council’s senior highways officers. We took a walk around the area. I explained the traffic problems in the suggested area, as well as drawing their attention to other problems. These included the narrow and uneven footways along Honor Oak Road, the difficulties for pedestrians crossing at and near the St Francesca Cabrini junction, and the safety railing at the bottom of Canonbie Road. We also noticed a blocked drain problem – I have been out since, checking and reporting on those!

As I discussed with petition signers, we all recognise the lack of money at the moment, and one positive of the plan was the limited cost of introducing a zone in this area – few or no new extra physical measures are required at this stage, since the zone extension suggested is already humped. This was appreciated by the officers.

Ian and Bill did not, of course, immediately promise the zone could be implemented. They raised a couple of reasons not to: the difficulty in enforcement of a 20mph zone compared to a 30mph zone; and the relative safety – lack of human accident statistics – at the St Francesca Cabrini junction. Of course the first is only relevant when the police actually do enforce it, which we’ve seen little evidence of and is only less likely after the cuts; the second is only a small subset of the issue.

In general, however, they had a positive attitude to the issues that we saw and promised that there would be a full study undertaken soon on the possibility of changes in the area we talked about. We all need to keep an eye out that this doesn’t drift and I have already asked further questions to chase the issue up.

Photograph copyright (C) Keith Evans and licensed for reuse under the Creative Commons Licence.